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NHL Power Rankings — 12/30 12.30.09 at 6:57 am ET
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The end of 2009 doesn’t end the Devils’ reign atop the WEEI Power Rankings. Here’s to every team having a happy start to the New Year.

New Jersey Devils 1. (1) 27-9-1  Each week we think about making a change at the top. But it’s tough to argue with the fact that the team that has played the fewest games (37) has the most wins (27).

Chicago Blackhawks2. (2) 26-10-3  Beating Detroit once and Nashville twice in the last week helps the Blackhawks maintain a solid hold on their lead in the Central Division. Now they host the Devils Thursday, with a chance to move atop our rankings.

San Jose Sharks3. (5) 24-8-7  The Sharks knock off the Blackhawks, Ducks and Coyotes, and Joe Thornton now leads the league in scoring. That’s a good week.

Washington Capitals4. (4) 24-9-6  This would be Exhibit A in the case suggesting the Capitals simply don’t have the right focus to be taken as a serious contender. They beat Buffalo and New Jersey, then lose to Carolina at home.

Minnesota Wild5. (6) 24-11-4  Rallying from a three-goal deficit to take a 4-3 victory over the Penguins Tuesday allows the Sabres to leap past Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Penguins6 . (3) 26-13-1  After squandering a 3-0 lead in Tuesday’s loss at Buffalo, the Penguins have dropped three of their last four games.

Phoenix Coyotes7. (10) 25-13-3  Who says the desert is no place to play hockey? The Coyotes took a 3-2 shootout victory over Vancouver Tuesday and set a franchise record with their 10th straight win on home ice.

Colorado Avalanche8. (9) 22-12-6  The surprising Avalanche may be in the fight for the long haul. Colorado has gone 7-3 in its last 10 games.

Nashville Predators9. (7) 23-14-3  Tough sledding for the Predators this past week, losing to Vancouver and twice to Chicago. A 4-3 victory over St. Louis got Nashville back on track Tuesday.
Calgary Flames10. (11) 21-12-5  This says a lot about the NHL. The Flames are 4-6-2 in December, but that’s good enough to tread water and stay among the top 10 points leaders.

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Morris back, Lucic to travel 12.26.09 at 12:25 pm ET
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The Bruins received a couple of the gifts they were looking for on Christmas.

As the team returned to practice Saturday, defenseman Derek Morris was back skating after missing three games with an undisclosed injury.

“I feel good, it’s just a matter of getting the legs back, it wasn’t that long a rest. A couple of skates and I should be good,” said Morris who had ridden a stationary bike during the Christmas break.

Julien was non-committal as to whether Morris is set to be in the lineup when the Bruins take on the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, Florida on Sunday.

The team is also optimistic that forward Milan Lucic could be set to return in a few days. Lucic skated on his own after the Bruins practice, moving well in the final stages of recovering from a high ankle sprain that has kept him out of the lineup since November.

“He’s obviously getting better, he’s going to make the trip with us and skate with us,” Julien said. “It’s a good sign.”

If Morris is set to go Julien will have to decide which defenseman drops out of the lineup. Rookie Adam McQuaid might be the logical choice, but he has settled in to play decent hockey in his first three NHL games.

“I am feeling more comfortable, there’s still a lot to learn obviously,” said McQuaid. “The guys have been really good, they make me feel real comfortable out there.”

While getting called up from Providence last week allowed McQuaid to make his NHL debut, it did cause the need for some impromptu Christmas plans.

“My family decided at the last minute to come down, so we went to my apartment in Providence,” said McQuaid. “It was the first time I hadn’t gone home for Christmas, but it was for a good reason.”

NHL Power Rankings, 12/23 12.23.09 at 7:24 am ET
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As the countdown to Christmas continues,  step aside from the shopping cart. Put down the wrapping paper. Gather family and friends near and enjoy the gift that is the WEEI NHL Power Rankings.

New Jersey Devils 1. (1) 26-8-1  The Devils were challenged by the Penguins for our top spot, but Martin Brodeur went into Pittsburgh and grabbed a milestone shutout. The Devils remain on top.

Chicago Blackhawks2. (3) 23-9-3  The Blackhawks have the best team goals-against average (1.96) in the league and high-end offensive talent. Santa has been very good to them this year.

Pittsburgh Penguins3. (2) 25-11-1  Before running into shutout king Brodeur Monday, the Penguins had won five in a row. They could do the Bruins a favor by returning to their winning ways in their next three contests, all against Northeast Division teams.

Washington Capitals4. (4) 22-8-6  After a few rough seasons for Brendan Morrison, it’s nice to see he has fit in well with the Capitals, with 24 points in 36 games and a plus-14 rating.

San Jose Sharks5. (7) 22-8-7  Tuesday’s 3-2 win in a showdown with the Blackhawks showed the Sharks could still be the team to beat in the West.

Minnesota Wild6. (6) 22-10-3  Here’s a holiday treat. The Sabres and league-best goalie Ryan Miller take on Alex Ovechkin and the Caps in Washington tonight. Eggnog for all.

Nashville Predators7.  (11) 22-12-3  Despite a loss in Vancouver Tuesday, the Predators remain a scorching 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. Don’t expect them to be cooling off for too long.

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Legends on Fenway ice 12.18.09 at 4:31 pm ET
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You could have followed the Red Sox or the Bruins your whole life.

You could have played for the Red Sox or Bruins your whole life.

But you wouldn’t have seen anything like this before.

Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, Cam Neely and Big Bad Bruins skating atop the infield at Fenway Park.

The rink was three days old, the ice still a work in progress, but there it was, a hockey rink at Fenway, with the stars of decades of Bruins hockey back for a brisk skate.

“It’s great to be out here and see my former teammates,” said Orr as he, Bourque and Neely hit the ice with Cleon Daskalakis, Gary Doak, Ken Hodge, Ken Linseman, Pie McKenzie, Rick Middleton, Jay Miller, Terry O’Reilly, Brad Park, Derek Sanderson, Bob Sweeney and Don Sweeney for a rare but significant reunion. Milt Schmidt and Ed Sandford joined in with encouragement from the bench.

The Bridgestone Winter Classic frozen New Year’s Day faceoff between the Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers was still two weeks away, but with rink in place hockey chatter filled the chilled air Friday morning.

“I think it’s going to be an outstanding event, the [Green] Monster seats looking right down onto the ice, two good teams, it’s going to be an outstanding game,” said Orr.

While Orr doesn’t skate often these days, he was not going to miss Friday’s skate. And he still managed to show some of his leadership skills.

After Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek laced up his skates, the man who is normally right at home behind the plate at Fenway, hesitated before hitting the ice. As he mulled over his decision about showcasing his skating skills, Orr suddenly whisked by and asked Varitek to take a shift around the ice with him.

Varitek didn’t hesitate. He hit the ice with a focus that even Don Cherry would be proud of. You don’t miss that chance to skate alongside a legend.

“I don’t think I could ever duplicate that in my life,” said Varitek, who played youth hockey in Michigan while growing up. “It was pretty awesome.”

Orr thought so too.

“He’s a pretty good skater – he’s a Michigan guy,” laughed Orr.

It didn’t matter where they learned to skate Friday, or whether you were a veteran who made the Hall of Fame or just starting in a youth hockey league. Skating at Fenway was a whole new ballgame.

Bourque and Varitek at Fenway 12.18.09 at 10:16 am ET
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Here’s Ray Bourque with Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek at the Fenway ice rink.

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B’s legends skate at Fenway 12.18.09 at 9:59 am ET
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Some Bruins greats took to the rink at Fenway Park Friday morning to test out the ice. Here are some photos.

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NHL Power Rankings — 12/16 12.16.09 at 10:31 am ET
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As the ice rink gets built at Fenway, take a look at how we have constructed this week’s WEEI power rankings:

New Jersey Devils 1. (1) 22-8-1  Going a league best 8-2 in their last 10 will do little to drop the Devils from our top ranking.

Pittsburgh Penguins2. (5) 23-10-1  Back-to-back games with the Flyers followed by contests against Buffalo and New Jersey this week will be a nice test for the defending champs.

Chicago Blackhawks3. (3) 20-8-3  A four-game homestand, which includes a contest with the B’s Friday, could vault the Blackhawks to No. 1 just in time for Christmas.

Washington Capitals4. (2) 21-7-6  Get dropped by the Leafs 6-3 and you’re going to drop in the rankings. Them’s the rules, Caps fans.

Los Angeles Kings 5. (6 ) 22-11-3  Much hoopla in LA this week about the now-ready-for-prime-time Kings holding the top spot in the Western Conference and playing for the  “best record” in the league Monday. Hey, things are good, but let’s check the games played column before we get too carried away, Hollywood.

Minnesota Wild6. (10) 20-9-2 Four wins in a row for the Sabres. Derek Roy has four points (1 goal, 3 assists) to pace effort and lead team in scoring.

San Jose Sharks7. (4) 19-8-7  Please raise your hand if your team has not defeated the Sharks (0-2-3) recently.  Anyone?

Calgary Flames8. (7) 19-10-4  A dip for the Flames, who are just 2-4-1 in last seven. Jarome Iginla has no goals and just three assists over that stretch.

Colorado Avalanche9. (13) 19-11-6  Time to give the Avalanche a little more respect. Wins in four of their last six games will do that.

Phoenix Coyotes10. (8) 19-12-2   The Coyotes opened a four-game road trip with a loss in Detroit Monday. Big question is will Ilya Bryzgalov (13 straight starts) finally get a night off with back-to-back games Wednesday and Thursday.

Nashville Predators11. (11) 20-11-3   The loss of combative and competitive forward Jordin Toottoo for 3-4 weeks will present a test for the Predators.

Boston Bruins 12. (9) 16-10-6  After dropping back-to-back games to teams near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, the Bruins face a formidable challenge skating against one of the best in the West in Chicago Friday. Gut check time.

Detriot Red Wings13. (16) 17-11-5   The Red Wings have won 3-of-4 and are getting in gear. But the loss of defenseman Jonathan Ericsson in Monday’s win over the Coyotes could limit their climb.

Dallas Stars 14. (14) 14-8-10   James Neal has three goals and two assists in the last five games for the Stars. He has 14 on the season and should surpass the 24 goals he notched as a rookie last season.

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